If you wish to contact me privately, my email is primemover333@gmail.com. If you wish to know how I got three columns across the top of my blog but only two below ... if you're willing to pay, I'm willing to tell you (unless I really like you, then you don't have to pay).

I enjoy discussion both with people that agree with me and those that don't, so comment liberally if you so choose. However, don't expect me to pull punches if your comments are nonsense.

I believe I will be focusing, for the greater part, on the practical side of things. In other words, "less art, more substance;" how I apply Objectivism in my everyday life. There are enough blogs and other resources available that talk theory. I've provided links to a number of them here. For now, I prefer to focus on applying that theory to the nitty-gritty of everyday life instead of higher concepts. However, inevitably, there will probably by some conceptual posts as well; like any time something really gets my goat. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Missing Link

Thank you, Diana, for finally giving me the missing piece of the puzzle. In his book "Blink" Malcom Gladwell talks about rapid cognition; the way a person's subconscious will pick up certain clues based on that person's life experience (e.g. formal schooling, information acquired from exposure to different circumstances, et al) and feed a conclusion to the conscious mind. Often mistaken for revelation or instinctual knowledge, it is a person's reticular activating system identifying what is important in solving a particular problem and channelling the solution to the conscious mind, sometimes in the manner of "just a feeling."

I had "a feeling" about "third parties" and how they were ineffective where they weren't downright harmful, but I could never rationally explain why I had that feeling until Diana placed the above referenced post on an Objectivism Online forum. The comparison to the abolitionist movement was especially telling. It's always nice to have a historical example. I'd like to make the comparison, since we're in a war of ideas, to asymmetric warfare. When facing an enemy of great strength, never gather all in one place where you can be effectively wiped out; or in this case, summarily ignored in toto.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Objectivist Round Up #68

Our special Halloween edition of the Objectivist Round Up is fit to be tied with 13 entries (somewhat categorised) by authors who have a strong predilection for rationality, honesty, integrity, productivity, independence, pride, and justice.


Burgess Laughlin presents Predicting the timing of cultural changes? posted at Making Progress.
This article briefly wrestles with a recurring problem: How can one predict the timing of major events--such as the decline or renaissance of a culture? This in turn applies to the problem philosophical and intellectual activists are facing: How much time do we have left?

EC presents My Proposal posted at Atlantis.
A not so modest proposal for getting pop culture interested in Oism.

Gus Van Horn presents Pragmatism VS Cultural Change posted at gus van horn.
The way to get better politicians isn't to guilt our best and brightest into serving in politics; but to start by remembering what the proper purpose of government is and how that bears on whom we want in office.


Adam Victor Reed presents Darkness Made Visible in Michigan posted at Born to Identify.
Michigan voters on Nov. 4 will decide on a constitutional amendment that would allow researchers to create new stem cell lines using embryos that would otherwise be discarded. The effort faces stiff opposition from Michigan Citizens Against Unrestricted Science & Experimentation, a coalition opposed to the measure because "passage could lead to unregulated research (!) and even (!) human cloning.

Damon Payne presents Blueprint for Change posted at Damon Payne: Hand Waiving Software Architect.
A short analysis of some points of Obama’s “Blueprint for Change.”


Edward Cline presents Greenspan Recants posted at Rule of Reason.

Galileo Blogs presents Greenspan the Pragmatist posted at Galileo Blogs.
Greenspan's congressional testimony and two key comments in his autobiography reveal that this man is no friend of capitalism, nor is he a friend of Objectivism, the philosophy that properly defends it. This is my take on Greenspan the pragmatist.


Linn and Ari Armstrong present Time to Speak Out for Free Speech posted at FreeColorado.com.
After reviewing several cases of speech controls in Colorado, we advocate free speech.


Piz presents Evil Profit posted at The Four Rs.
Without profits, we're all living in Burundi. Tell a friend.

And … ”Hut! Hut!” Wait, I Mean, “May We Begin Now Comrades?”.
A satirical look at “spreading the wealth around” in the NFL.


Khartoum presents Exams In Hibernation. posted at Reddie Reasons.
I wish we had better things to study ... what a wish!


Paul S. Hsieh presents Mackerel Economics posted at NoodleFood.
Our government officials need to more learn about economics from federal prisoners.


Diana Hsieh presents What I Eat posted at NoodleFood.
This latest installment in my blogging on nutrition and health sketches my own paleo diet and offers some suggestions for eating well.

Thanks for reading. Submit your entries for the November 6th edition which will be hosted by C. August at Titanic Deck Chairs via the carnival submission form. Links to the Round Up's posts and hosts (past and future) are found here. Y'all come back now ya' hear!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Era of Ayn Rand?

Just the other day I had NPR on in the background while I played with my son and an interview caught my ear. I believe it was Robert Siegle interviewing someone whose name, unfortunately, I did not catch. The unnamed individual was giving commentary on Alan Greenspan's comments concerning the recent economic fiasco. If you've been living under a rock, just pick up the nearest newspaper and looking for the large headlines dripping with blood and screaming with boldface font and triple exclamation point ... metaphorically of course; it'll tell you all about it. I won't go into what Greenspan said. The Objectivist Blog-o-sphere is already tearing him a new one for it (get 'em Gus, Robert, C.August of Titanic Deck Chairs ). However, the person giving commentary said one thing that absolutely enraged me. His utterance was, "the era of Ayn Rand is over." Now, given that he can also be quoted as saying Rand believed that "government was tyrannical" he obviously has no idea what Objectivism is and should keep his trap shut. However, anyone listening to his broadcast may now believe that our current mess is a result of "Randian" policies. My question for this guy, if I ever met him in a dark alley, would be, "when exactly did the 'Era of Ayn Rand' start?"

Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957. The same year Eisenhower was re-elected. The same Eisenhower that continued all of the New Deal programs and formed the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. This is the same year the government first tried to launch a satellite ... it blew up on the pad. The same year Operation Dropshot was conceived to preemptively instigate hostilities with the USSR. But, maybe Atlas didn't have time to sink in yet.

What about a decade later in 1967? Our 16 year misadventure in Vietnam was still eight years from its abortive end; meanwhile tens of thousands of war protesters watch Allen Ginsberg chant to "levitate" the pentagon. LBJ signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 handing out our tax dollars so the above idiot can spout his misinformation. In LBJ's words, "It announces to the world that our Nation wants more than just material wealth; our Nation wants more than a 'chicken in every pot.' We in America have an appetite for excellence, too. While we work every day to produce new goods and to create new wealth, we want most of all to enrich man's spirit. That is the purpose of this act." Additionally, "It will give a wider and, I think, stronger voice to educational radio and television by providing new funds for broadcast facilities. It will launch a major study of television's use in the Nation's classrooms and their potential use throughout the world. Finally — and most important — it builds a new institution: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting." Yes, because new institutions are very important, and I am so glad the government is concerned with my spiritual growth. Here I thought they were just safeguarding my individual rights.

Okay, maybe it's a generational thing, how about 1982? The national debt was $110 billion by the end of the year. How does that relate to federal spending over those 25 years? I think this tells the tale. It's a chart plotted using the White House's data.

How's about the new Millennium? Clinton told us "the era of big government is over" four years earlier so by 2000 we were probably in great shape, right? Well, Bush got nominated by the Republicans and he's a dyed in the wool Objectivist if ever there was. Microsoft got hammered by antitrust laws. Just imagine if the lawyers who prosecuted them weren't allowed to use PCs; Microsoft might have had a fighting chance. Six year old Elian Gonzalez, whose mother died (drowned at sea) getting him to the US, was forcibly repatriated to freedom loving Cuba after federal agents raided his relatives' house. This picture says all that needs to be said. In 2008 he joined the Young Communist League of Cuba.

I have no desire to revisit anything but my personal memories from the years 2001-2008. We see the pattern, and the previous eight painful years have held pretty-much nothing but more of the same; as I'm sure the next four to eight will. The above events are cited because they happened to occur during the randomly chosen years mentioned. If I were to research and target specific events, I'm sure this post would be much, much longer. After all, there's no mention of the Federal Reserve, Gold Standard, or various legislation such as the Community Reinvestment Act and only one use of antitrust laws. In fact, the things I've written about seem downright innocuous compared to what I could have written about. So, my question for the overheard ass-hat on NPR, restated, is, "when, in the past 50 years, was the era of restricted government, Laissez-Faire Capitalism, and promotion of personal freedom?" And to think, I had actually considered giving money to them this year ... wait, thanks to LBJ, I did.


[edit 10/31] I just found this to drive the point home a little further.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Friend ... The Socialist

Well, he's not really a Socialist. Like many, he doesn't really know what Socialism is let alone its disastrous consequences. And, not surprisingly, he has just as little understanding of Capitalism. The problem, as I see it, is he does not seem to have an impetus to discover what these things are for himself. We've had lengthy conversations that have constantly degenerated into circular arguments because he has no grounding in the basics. I've asked him about his epistemology and after explaining what that meant I was given the answer that he is "shaped by [his] experiences and observations." I wasn't even sure where to begin with that; other than saying (as I did to him) that "we are all shaped by our experiences and observations." It is how we incorporate what we experience and observe into our being that determines what kind of a person we become. How we incorporate is determined by our philosophy. When we don't know or don't have a philosophy ... well that pretty much leaves us in a nebulous world of inconsistent and unreasoned thought (to use the word loosely) now doesn't it? How could you know what you know, why you think what you think, or why you believe what you believe?

This seems to be the case for not only my friend, but the vast majority of people. I think it really explains how demagogues like FDR, Bush, and Obama get elected. Yes, I'm already conceding for John McLame. Don't worry about it Johnny! I got it covered for ya'! He's going to loose because he has no idea what he stands for. He has no philosophy to guide him. I will make the assertion that most of those voting for Obama are either voting against Bush (
you do know he isn't running, right?) or for Obama because he sounds pretty. When you have no map (read: philosophy) then you have no idea whether a particular course (read: certain candidate) will lead closer to or away from your destination. Should we Change ... why, how, to what specifically? It's not certain whether Obama even knows for sure what he is preaching, but one thing is certain, he has more philosophical ground to stand on than McCain ... for what it's worth.

But I digress. I have a conundrum. I have lent my assistance in a creative project to my friend. There is a character based on me. I have allowed the use of a pseudonym I created many years ago. I have read portions of the script and given input as well as been a sounding board for my friend to flesh out ideas for the series. Now, according to my friend (keep in mind his ignorance), the series is taking a Socialistic turn. Now, I am uncertain as to what to do. I still value my oldest friend. He may be misguided, but he is not evil. However, the fact remains that if the series does promote Socialistic values, I have given aid and succor to the enemy; even if in ignorance. Should I ask that my pseudonym be removed from the character? Should I deny all further assistance, or should I help more in making an already semi-Objectivist character a fuller Objectivist? In which is there more value? Does it matter if the pen is held by a Mystic?


Friday, October 10, 2008

Perhaps 80's New Wave Was More Substantive than We Thought?

For those of you that thought 80's New Wave was just about the overuse of synthesizers and fluorescent lights, I submit for your approval:

From New Order's "True Faith"
The chances are we've gone too far.
You took my time and you took my money.
Now I fear you've left me standing,
In a world that's so demanding.
Maybe Joy Division part deux knew what they were talking about. That is, if you take the leap and apply the above to US economic policy.

From Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio"
I dial it in and tune the station.
They talk about the U.S. inflation.
I understand just a little.
No comprende, it's a riddle.
I can see this as an apt commentary on the average citizen's grasp of Federal Reserve policies and their effects on currency value.

Perhaps these bands were able to tear themselves away from their cocaine and Rubik's Cubes long enough to make some contributions to the fight for reason. At least, as long as you're willing to read them that way.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Video

I've placed a new video at the top of the page. It is titled "How Schools Kill Creativity." Those of you interested in the education of our children should find it illuminating. Furthermore, it is one of the most entertaining short lectures I've had the pleasure of listening to. Thanks TED!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Learning to Love the Struggle

Luckily, I'm still young enough to be occasionally struck wide-eyed by "revelations." This morning, I had what some would call a revelation. Really, it was just a lesson that I've heard enough and observed enough that it finally sunk through my thick skull and made sense. Life's not supposed to be easy. In fact, if it were, it would probably suck the big one. Things that come easily, are easily resented. Hence, the best way to get through life, happily, is to learn to love the struggle.

As Aristotle said, "A is A," reality can't be faked, no matter how much I may wish certain things in life to be different, they won't change unless I work to change them. Right now, I'm far from happy with the political environment in this country. That's putting it mildly. If things keep going the way that they are, I have serious doubts as to the survival of this Republic. Thoughts such as these have been plaguing me the past few weeks. This morning, though, a had a sudden sense of peace about about more than just the political situation. It was a kind of comprehensive, fundamental settling of my thoughts and emotions. The thought occurred to me that no matter what happens I can deal with it. Moreover, not only I can deal with it and will, but I will enjoy fighting for my values and designing mine and my family's life.

The childish urge to "have it now, daddy, now, now, now!;" the unrealistic desire for a magic wand just seemed to fall away. I suppose, if I believed in that nonsense, I would attribute this surge of peace and self-confidence to being touched by God, and "feeling his love for me." However, I think puzzle pieces just finally clicked and I had a leap in emotional maturity. I am responsible for my life. I've said that before, but this morning I came to believe it. I think the aforementioned childish urge was some of the last vestiges of the collectivist thinking in which I have been awash for the vast majority of my life. Somewhere in my mind, idea that somehow, things should be different and others should be responsible for making them different was still crouching, dankly in the dark. I think a lot of people suffer from this. They replace personal responsibility with God or the government or abstract faith. To make your life better, you have to do it; and it's not done with a magic wand, a silver bullet, or a metaphorical atom bomb. It's a slow process, a long-term proposition like redirecting a river. First, you have to know where you want the river in the end. Then, you have to acquire and use the tools to inch it along. It's a struggle, but when you love your life, you can love the effort to shape it.